Claptone: “You’ve got to love it and not expect anything. Only then will your music sound like it’s from the heart”
The mask-bearing producer talks Golden Recordings, The Masquerade parties in Ibiza, their immense home studio and why passion for the music is key
House producer, DJ and infamous Ibiza masked party starter Claptone adds a sprinkling of magic to all that he lays his white gloves on. He’s been trusted to give a golden touch to tracks by Elton John and Goldfrapp and notably for Gregory Porter with his take on the track Liquid Spirit. His most recent offering, however, is an expertly-executed piano house anthem, Euphoria, that’s sure to transport you to those legendary days and nights on the White Isle.
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We reach out to the producer to talk about their new record label, Golden Recordings, The Masquerade events at Pacha in Ibiza and why maintaining a pure passion for making music will always be a valuable asset for any producer. He also shows us round his stunning studio, full of everything from modular gear to a grand piano.
Tell us about the ethos behind your new label.
I created Golden Recordings to celebrate house music and its everlasting golden era. This music has been around for about 40 years now and it’s still exciting, inspiring and changing shapes constantly. I want to revel in its strong roots as well as its diversity and open-mindedness, which bring forth new sounds and flavours every day. Obviously, my productions and especially my DJ sets set the tone for the label. The track that I want to play in my set is the track that will be released on Golden Recordings.
In that respect, it doesn’t matter if it’s produced by a well-known artist or a newcomer at all. I want to put music out that I play on my dancefloors.
You smashed Ibiza with your Masquerade residencies in 2022. Are you excited to get back in the Ibizan sunshine this year?
Excited is an understatement. I love The Masquerade Saturdays at Pacha and I can’t wait to bring my party back to the island and, of course, enjoy some sunshine if I find the time during my busy summer schedule. I have a killer lineup for the 2023 season including Purple Disco Machine, Fatboy Slim, Dom Dolla, Nora En Pure and many more.
I’m especially excited to play in front of this amazing crowd again. It’s such a vibe at The Masquerade. People come in and start dancing instantly. From early on, it’s pure joy until the lights go on in the morning.
Tell us about your DJ sets.
I try to take the crowd on a journey through house music, make them dance, celebrate and forget the here and now. Very often, I give them something they think they know but flip it and change direction without losing the focus. I like surprises and can’t stand it if a track is just boring. For me, the music always needs to touch you, evoke emotions, make you happy and smile while you dance.
Your new single Euphoria centres around a wild piano riff. Pianos feature in a lot of your music.
Pianos are the essence of house. Listen to Move Your Body by Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk. It’s just such an integral part of my music and I’m in love with it. If I use it, it needs to feel right and play something that works on the floor or when listening to it at home. In Euphoria, the relentless piano line lifts you higher and higher in a feeling of pure bliss and happiness up until the drop, the climax so to speak. It’s the perfect instrument here.
Tell us a bit about your studio.
My studio is at home, but is also travelling with me. It’s imperative to be able to work on the road, in planes, on beaches – well, everywhere! At home, I have a better control room though, so that’s where I usually mixdown. I use other studios on the road at times, but I’ve never permanently rented a studio outside of my home; it’s always been part of my apartment or house. I need to feel 100 per cent comfortable in there to let loose, let go and just make music.
You’ve been able to work with vocals from Elton John right through to Goldfrapp more recently. Do you approach each of these vocalists differently?
Most of the time, on that level of artist and especially for remixes, I get sent vocals that are very well produced, so it’s not hard to work with them and I don’t have to get as deep into vocal production as I do for my albums. My main approach to vocals is the same as to music in general: I only work with vocals that touch me, that really make me feel something on an emotional level. That’s very personal, but only then I’m inspired and only then I can create something that I really love.
If you were left on a desert island, what one item would you take with you to make music with forever?
I hope until that happens, someone finally invents that one interface that translates what’s in your head into what you can hear. This would be so groundbreaking, because everyone who had a musical idea would just be able to formulate that idea and we all could hear it. On a secluded island with one just being able to bring one piece of equipment this comes in especially handy of course.
What is the one piece of advice you would give a producer starting out in the music industry?
Find out if music is what you really want to do, if you enjoy the process of making music, getting lost in the process of making music, and finding joy in spending endless hours without getting anywhere, without finishing anything. If you love that and you are sure you want to invest the better part of your life in doing that and if you accept you might never finish anything and if so maybe never release it, and maybe never get any recognition for it and maybe never be able to live from the money you are making with your music, then you are dedicated enough to give it a shot.
You’ve got to love it and not expect anything – no success, no money, no fans. Nothing. Only then, your music will sound as if it’s from the heart and will touch other people. Or you just need to be extremely lucky, skilled at social media and willing to invest a lot of money there, while still being able afford a very very talented ghost producer. That might work as well nowadays.
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